On East 4th Street between Bowery and 2nd Avenue, one can feel the holy gaze of saints peering down from above. These legendary figures are the handiwork of Tom Sanford, the New York-based talent who paints richly colored compositions of cultural figures both infamous and beloved. Sanford, in collaboration with artist Graham Preston, recently hung portraits of seven hometown heroes on the scaffolding of 70 East 4th Street in his first outdoor project, The Saints of the Lower East Side.
The artists’ imitation icons—Martin Wong, Joey Ramone, Miguel Piñero, Ellen Stewart, Charlie Parker, Weegee, and Allen Ginsberg—preside fourteen feet above street level, consecrating the place where they became myth. In these new pieces, Sanford continues to bring the weight of hundreds of years of art to contemporary subjects, creating a warped history complete with caricature and melodrama.
The Saints of the Lower East Side will be on view through September 5. After that, Sanford says he hopes to find a permanent resting place for the Saints.